January 2007 Mentor of the Month Interview: John Sherwin
Biography
  1. What is your job title and affiliation?
  2. Briefly tell us about your educational and career background
  3. What are your Board certifications?
  4. With which professional societies/organizations (e.g. AACC) are you involved?
  5. Just for fun, tell us a few interesting facts about yourself.
Career
  1. What area(s) do you specialize in?
  2. What initiated your interest in this (these) area(s) and how did you eventually choose this (these) area(s) for your career?
  3. Were there any mentors that were instrumental in your career development? Please describe. 
  4. What are your clinical and research interests?
  5. What, in your opinion, has been the most important contribution you have made to the field of laboratory medicine?
  6. Are there specific aspects of practicing laboratory medicine that you find unappealing?
  7. What were some of the most rewarding and/or challenging moments of your career?
  8. How would you recommend achieving an optimal work/life balance?
  9. What excites you about practicing laboratory medicine everyday?
  10. What are your predictions for advances in laboratory medicine and/or your area over the next ten years?
  11. What do you see as the challenges facing young scientists in laboratory medicine?
  12. What specific goals would you recommend that young scientists in your discipline set for themselves? Any suggestions on how to achieve them?
  13. Describe how you have been able to give back or contribute to the organizations and the profession in general through your involvement in AACC.
  14. How did you get started in these organizations and what advice do you have for young people wanting to get involved?
  15. Do you have any other specific comments or advice that you like to provide to the members of SYCL?
Biography
  1. What is your job title and affiliation?
    I am the acting chief of the California Genetic Disease Program and am employed by the State of California
  2. Briefly tell us about your educational and career background.
    I received my PhD from the University of California in Santa Barbara and did postgraduate research at the University of Tokyo and Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago before joining Dr. Samuel Natelson for postdoctoral training in Clinical Chemistry. I was Director of Pediatric Laboratories at Michael Reese Hospital for 5 years before returning to California to Valley Children’s Hospital as Chief of Chemistry and Toxicology. After nearly 15 years I relocated to the Los Angeles area to be senior technical director/general manager of Damon Laboratories. For a brief time I was Chief Operating Officer of Impath Laboratories. Ten years ago, I joined the State of California as Chief of the Genetic Disease Laboratories and last year was made acting Chief of the Genetic Disease Program.
  3. What are your Board certifications?
    I am certified in Clinical Chemistry by the ABCC, and as a High Complexity Laboratory Director by the AAB. I am also licensed as a clinical chemist by the State of California and as a Laboratory Director by the State of New York.
  4. With which professional societies/organizations (e.g. AACC) are you involved?
    I have long been actively involved with the AACC and the NACB. I am also active in the Association of Public Health Laboratories
  5. Just for fun, tell us a few interesting facts about yourself:
    • Family
      My wife Carolyn and I have been married for 40 years and have two wonderful sons and two marvelous granddaughters.
    • Favorite activities/hobbies
      I enjoy building dollhouses, fly fishing, and gardening
    • Favorite places you have traveled
      I have always loved Mexico and have enjoyed safari in Africa and visiting Turkey, Australia and India with friends
    • Favorite book/movie
      I enjoyed: “Down to the Soundless Sea” by Thomas Steinbeck, and I still like watching “Blade Runner”
    • Most fun/adventurous thing you’ve ever done
      Certainly safari in Africa was incredible. Seeing Tigers in India was a memory of a lifetime as was climbing Mt. Whitney.
Career
  1. What area(s) do you specialize in?
    Pediatrics and Perinatal Laboratory Medicine have always been the focus of my career in Laboratory Medicine
  2. What initiated your interest in this (these) area(s) and how did you eventually choose this (these) area(s) for your career?
    I have always been interested in understanding growth and development. It started in biology and drilled down into biochemistry and then to genetics as much by opportunity as by design.
  3. Were there any mentors that were instrumental in your career development? Please describe.
    Dr. Samuel Natelson was a true mentor and without his support I would never have entered Clinical Chemistry. 
  4. What are your clinical and research interests?
    At this time, I am interested in the prevalence and clinical course of genetic diseases in newborn infants.
  5. What, in your opinion, has been the most important contribution you have made to the field of laboratory medicine?
    I have great hopes that the newly created Past Presidents’ Scholarship will continue to grow and help young clinical chemist receive quality postdoctoral training that will keep the AACC and the entire field of Laboratory Medicine vibrant for years to come.
  6. Are there specific aspects of practicing laboratory medicine that you find unappealing?
    I don’t know anyone who ever enjoyed doing fecal fat extraction and analysis.
  7. What were some of the most rewarding and/or challenging moments of your career?
    This past year as President of the AACC has been a highlight of my career.
  8. How would you recommend achieving an optimal work/life balance?
    While I am still working on this, it seems that being open to change is important.
  9. What excites you about practicing laboratory medicine everyday?
    I enjoy the fact that every day we are helping to identify babies with inborn errors of metabolism so that they can receive therapy and get a good early start in life.
  10. What are your predictions for advances in laboratory medicine and/or your area over the next ten years?
    With the completion of the human genome, I think that the next ten years will bring continued growth in our understanding of the complexity of all of the “omics” and these will challenge clinical chemists to incorporate these advances into improved patient outcomes through laboratory medicine
  11. What do you see as the challenges facing young scientists in laboratory medicine?
    The challenge is to take advantage of the opportunities within laboratory medicine and to build a career upon a burgeoning base of scientific knowledge. Just keeping up is a huge challenge.
  12. What specific goals would you recommend that young scientists in your discipline set for themselves? Any suggestions on how to achieve them?
    Broad goals are better than specific goals because life is filled with change. Any suggestions on how to achieve them? Find a mentor whose company you enjoy.
  13. Describe how you have been able to give back or contribute to the organizations and the profession in general through your involvement in AACC.
    The best way to contribute is to get involved in the activities of the association and to take advantage of opportunities to participate at a variety of levels including your local section by attending meetings and actively participating.
  14. How did you get started in these organizations and what advice do you have for young people wanting to get involved?
    I found that volunteering to help with local section activities was a great first step.
  15. Do you have any other specific comments or advice that you like to provide to the members of SYCL?
    Work hard at the things you enjoy and reach out to your colleagues.
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